About the Project
In 1940 there was little construction work in Houston. Thus the building of an air base at Ellington Field was a coveted contract and competition was keen. Tellepsen Construction Company was the successful bidder on the first section which included, besides the wrecking of 1917 buildings (Tom had installed a water tank there at that time), the construction of barracks, mess halls, chapels, warehouses, and miscellaneous buildings. Since this was the only job of any consequence in the Houston area, labor was plentiful. The men formed literally block-long queues at the Clay Avenue office and mile-long lines of automobiles at the field. It was even necessary at times to have police supervision at the field to keep order among the job seekers.
Tom set up a subsidiary mill on the job site so that lumber might be handled more efficiently and economically. At first in the early fall when the ground was dry, materials were transported by Tellepsen trucks. With the coming of the rainy season, the field became a morass, and all materials had to be sledded into place. This meant the use of tractors and it was a very expensive procedure. Tom faced a tough proposition, and he and his staff worked day and night to meet the challenge.
Tom is especially proud of the Ellington Manor building housing project at Meadowbrook. Here, 200 houses were built for Ellington Field officers and their families. The contract included streets, sidewalks, utilities, a playground for the children, and even landscaping. The project amounted to $1.5 million, and Tom managed to save the government 10% of the estimated cost, or $150,000.